This vaccine gives protection against 23 different types of pneumococcus bacteria that all cause pneumococcal disease. These 23 types cause about 9 out of every 10 infections caused by pneumococcus bacteria.
PPV can safely be given at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine and the shingles vaccine.
The vaccine does not contain any live bacteria, and cannot cause pneumococcal disease.
The brand name for the PPV used in the UK is Pneumovax 23. See the Patient Information Leaflet .
Who should have the vaccine?
In the UK, PPV is given to adults aged 65 and over. Pneumococcal vaccines (PPV and PCV) are also recommended for people of all ages with some health conditions who are at greater risk of complications from pneumococcal disease. This includes people with:
- immunosuppression, a missing spleen, sickle cell anaemia or coeliac disease
- chronic liver disease, kidney disease or heart disease
- chronic lung conditions
- chronic brain (neurological) conditions including learning disability
- cochlear implants
- cerebrospinal fluid leaks
- complement disorders (the complement system is an important part of the immune system)
People who are exposed to metal fumes (for example, welders) are at higher risk of pneumococcal disease and may also be offered PPV.
People over 65 are given a single pneumococcal vaccination. Those with a long-term health condition are offered just a single pneumococcal vaccination, or vaccination every five years, depending on their underlying health problem.
PPV is not recommended for children under 2 because it does not work well in this age group. There is a similar vaccine for babies and children (the PCV - Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine).
What protection does the vaccine give?
PPV prevents some types of serious pneumococcal disease, but it does not prevent all forms of the disease. It is less effective against pneumonia, otitis media (ear infection) and sinusitis. See 'Does the vaccine work?' below.